A season that passed the point of sad a long time ago is now verging on the absurd. When the Houston Astros hit, they don't pitch, and when they pitch, they don't hit. And now, when they finally have a surplus of players (33 because of September call-ups), they have more problems filling nine spots than ever.
The conundrum at shortstop is probably the diciest. Tyler Greene is the only healthy shortstop with Jed Lowrie on a rehab assignment and Marwin Gonzalez technically on the roster but at home rehabbing an ankle injury.
Suddenly third base is a problem as well, and the Astros are -- as September rosters will allow -- down to their fourth choice at third base. It was Matt Downs -- generally now an outfielder who plays against left-handed pitching -- starting despite facing a right-handed pitcher in the Astros' 5-3 win Friday night.
Usual starter Matt Dominguez was out of the starting lineup with a hand injury that he suffered in Tuesday's agame against the Pirates, though he did enter in the middle of the game and hit the game-winning home run in the ninth when Jose Altuve got hurt. Second choice Scott Moore was hurt the next night when he pulled his groin and is still several days away from returning, manager Tony DeFrancesco said. So it was supposed to be recent wavier claim Brandon Laird until Laird got sick Friday.
Like with everything else that's come his way with a now 43-95 ballclub, DeFrancesco has had to try to make the best of a bad situation.
"We're OK," he surmised. "Downsie's a good infielder. He's going to get a chance to play in this ballpark I heard is hitter friendly and hopefully we'll get something in those power alleys and hit a few homers."
With Altuve out perhaps for multiple games with his abdominal strain, the Astros could be using Downs much more.